Medical and Dental Assistants
When you go to a doctor’s or dentist’s office, you usually meet a few different people. Besides the other patients waiting for their appointments, there’s the receptionist who takes your name and then tells you when you can go in. The next person you see is probably the medical or dental assistant. These people help with a wide variety of tasks within a medical or dental office and are often a very important in the work of caring for the patients who come for treatment.
The tasks of a medical or dental assistant can vary a lot, depending on training, the size of the office, and how the doctor or dentist likes to work. However, most assistants do a combination of working with the patients and doing paperwork. The paperwork might include taking down information about a patient’s previous illnesses and current state of health, making appointments, or writing down information for insurance payments.
Working with patients might include helping a doctor give needles, weighing patients, taking x-rays of people’s teeth, and preparing dental fillings. In addition, medical and dental assistants might clean instruments such as dental tools, prepare the room for the next patient to come in, and generally be ready for anything the doctor or dentist needs. Assistants need to be ready for anything from sweeping the floor to dealing with medical emergencies.
Most medical or dental assistants work in private offices and clinics. Their work is mostly self-regulated. This means that the requirements for the work depend largely on what their employers want them to do. Completing high school or its equivalent is usually a basic requirement, and most dental or medical assistants must know CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) in case a patient’s heart stops during a treatment. Many assistants also get special training and receive licenses to work in their field. The training is usually about ten months or a year at a technical school, with a heavy emphasis on scientific subjects like physics and biology. Taking the sciences in high school is a good way to prepare for this field.
For medical assistants in Canada, salaries range from about $23,000 to $51,000 per year, and for dental assistants, they are between about $29,500 and a little over $53,000. Montreal currently has the lowest wages, and Alberta has the highest. Some employers pay more than others, but experience also helps move workers up to the higher salaries.
Medical and dental assistants might never be featured on television shows or enjoy the high status that their employers have, but their work is essential in caring for the needs of patients. If you choose to get into this field, your work will help make many other people’s lives easier and better.